Yoga for Weight Loss: How to Burn Calories While Relaxing

You’ve probably heard it, or you will hear it that “yoga is a great way to burn fat without breaking a sweat”.

But how true that statement is?

People always look at yoga as a great way to relieve stress, relax your muscles, and mainly reap the mental benefits of practicing yoga [1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16740317.

But there are physical benefits as well.

You’ll be surprised, but benefits of yoga for weight loss come from the mental side of it.

How yoga helps you lose weight?

If you’ve ever read a healthy diet article, you know that one of the biggest causes of weight gain is stress.

In most cases, stress leads to a poor diet.

When you are under stress, you tend to crave foods that will lead to weight gain [2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17544857.

That includes processed foods, processed sugars, chips, cakes, candies, and similar high-sugar content food.

Yoga, on the other hand, helps you reduce stress, and lower the cortisol levels [3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19341989/.

Any diet and nutrition expert will tell you that cortisol levels are crucial for losing weight [4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259454/.

Cortisol, or commonly known as the stress hormone, is one that causes weight gain.

Just lowering the cortisol levels will help you lose weight without burning any fat.

Another aspect yoga helps you lose weight is by challenging your mind and body.

You can go through the motions in yoga without really trying.

But you will accomplish nothing.

The true way to use yoga for weight loss, or for anything else for that matter, is to challenge your mind and body and take it to new lengths.

Challenging yourself will result in higher calorie-burning rate, translating to weight loss.

Different types of yoga

In the past several years, celebrities like Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, and Madonna have praised yoga for helping them lose weight.

While most of us think of aerobic exercise as the traditional way to lose weight, yoga can help you achieve those goals as well.

What you need to understand is that there are different types of yoga.

For example, there is yoga for the mind [5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15255625/.

And there is also power yoga, which is yoga for weight loss [6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25417199.

Yoga classes run between 75 and 90 minutes.

That is more than one hour of continual activity, and your muscles are working the whole time [7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16454146.

Yoga poses for weight loss

Here are several poses, or asanas that can help you use yoga for weight loss.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Wide legged
Photo: banyanbotanicals.com

1. Spread your feet 3-4 feet apart

2. Bend forward at the hips, not your waist, while keeping your back as straight as possible while bending

3. Hold for 5 deep breaths. If you are comfortable, you can clasp the hands behind the back

Doing this exercise properly, will manifest as a strong stretch in the hamstrings. You can try and practice the pose in front of a mirror to get the correct form.

Tip: For an extra stretch, bring your hands up towards the ceiling

Lunge

Lunge

1. Start in standing position, and then lunge forward

2. Make sure the front knee is as close to 90 degrees as possible. Hold for 15 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Lunges are one of the most versatile exercises for stretching.

Depending on where you position your arms, those muscles you are stretching.

For example, raise them up and tilt backward, and you bring the back and hips in the stretch as well.

Bring the arms down to the sides and behind in order to stretch the lower back.

Tip: If your work involves sitting in a front of computer, practice lunges every day to increase flexibility

Half Boat Pose

Half Boat Pose

1. Start in a seating position, with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your hands should be resting beside your hips

2. While keeping the spine straight, lean back slightly and lift your fit. The goal is to bring the shins parallel to the floor

3. Draw in your lower back, lift your chest, and lengthen the front of the torso

If you want to lose weight, this is one of the best poses, as directly works the abdominal muscles.

You can add extra pressure and make the pose more hard by straightening the legs.

Tip: If you need extra balance, put your palms down on the ground and raise the legs first. Once you feel you are stable, raise the arms as well and make them parallel to the ground

Side Plank

Side Plank

1. With your feet together, start on one side and place one forearm directly below the shoulder

2. Contract your core, and then your raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from head to feet

3. Hold without letting your hips drop for 15 to 20 seconds, and then repeat on the other side

Any variation of the plank is great yoga for weight loss, as you directly work the ab muscles.

Tip: Never lean forward or backward, you might lose your balance

Tree pose

Tree pose

1. Bring your left foot in to rest on the inside of the left thigh

2. Keep your back straight, hands pressed together at your heart, and keep balance

3. Lift your hands above the head, and point toward the ceiling, and hold for 30 seconds

You might be fooled by the name of this pose, but it is harder than it looks.

Tip: Your body might have a natural tendency to lean forward, but always bring your shoulders back up

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

1. Keep your feet together, and your arms straight above your head

2. Lower into a squat position, and hold the position for 30 seconds

Another pose that looks easy on first glance, but it is extremely hard to balance and perform.

Think of it as the yoga version of a squat hold.

Tip: Always make sure to see your feet in front of your knees. If you lose sight, it means your knees are bent too far forward and you risk injury

Warrior I

Warrior I

1. Start in Mountain Pose, meaning you stand with feet hip-distance apart and arms at your side

2. Exhale, and step your feet wide apart

3. Turn your right food out 90 degrees, making sure your toes point to the top of the mat

4. Pivot your left food inwards, and then align your front heel with the arch of your back foot

5. Press your weight through your left heel, exhale, and bend your right knee over your right ankle. Make sure the spin is perpendicular to the floor and lift through the arches of your feet

6. Reach up strongly through your arms, and lift though your chest. Keep the palms and fingers active and reaching

7. Tilt your head back, gaze up at your thumbs, and keep the shoulders dropped away from your ears. Press firmly inward with shoulder blades. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, and keep the back leg straight. Hold for one minute

The Warrior routine is one of the most important yoga for weight loss routines.

Never ignore it.

It is a powerful way to build concentration, focus, and balance.

Warrior creates strength in all areas of life.

The Warrior routine is considered an advanced yoga routine, but once you master it, you’ll love it.

Tip: Think of Warrior I as a high lunge, with the back foot pointed out at an angle, not tucked under

Warrior II

Warrior II

1. From Warrior I, extend the arms out to both sides, and move your chest and hips to face the same direction as your back foot

2. Hold for 30 seconds, and then transition to Warrior III

Tip: Try to keep the front feet as close to 90 degree angle as possible

Warrior III

Warrior III

1. From Warrior II, twist your chest and face forward direction

2. Bring your arms straight out in front of you to ensure balance

3. Bring your palms together at your chest, and begin to lift your leg up in the air

4. Once in position, slowly raise your arms out in front of you

Warrior III is the most difficult pose of the warrior routine.

While it looks easy, holding the pose with the right form for several seconds is quite the challenge for both beginners.

Tip: For beginners, bring the back leg up closer to the front to stay balanced before lifting it

Child’s pose

Child’s pose

1. Bend your knees, and sit lightly between the heels

2. With your knees wide on either side of you, rest your forehead on the ground in front of you

3. Hold for 5 breaths or as long as you need. You can move to a next pose, or finish your workout

This is the pose to finish a yoga for weight loss routine.

Child’s pose helps you relax all your muscles, and relieve your body after a hard workout.

Tip: You can bring the arms in front of you, or behind, depending how you want to stretch

Yoga for weight loss

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